What Makes Workday® Different
I have worked with and implemented a number of different financial systems (Oracle, MS Dynamics 365, Workday®, Sage and Quickbooks) and there are a number of elements that makes Workday® stand out from the pack. This article will describe these elements and what benefit they can give to an organisation that is looking to improve their financial operations and reporting.
The Power of One
Workday® has a concept of the “Power of One” that underpins almost everything it does. The main idea is that everyone is on the same version of the software, working within the same community (of developers, software partners and users) and most importantly on the same version of the software. For a company that deploys Workday® across the HR, Payroll and Finance functions this “Power of One” advantage is extended even further. The enterprise systems and data that cover HR, Payroll, Expenses, Financials, Project Accounting, Budgeting and BI Reporting are all in one place and therefore the data is only mastered in one place and there is no need to introduce complex processes to synchronise HR and Finance data (cost centre structures for example). The tangible advantages that this can give you are;
- The Org Structure is maintained in one place. Approvals go to a role so if there is a change in the organisation (change of Team Manager or Senior Exec) any approvals continue to go to the correct person (newly appointed).
- Payroll and Expenses seamlessly use the same bank accounts as financials and are automatically posted to the correct GL accounts. Whilst these 2 examples may not appear to be big revenue generating items, they are examples of the little things that can add cost and delay into the operational functions. Remove the nagging issues and your teams can focus on the strategic items.
Another advantage that it gained from the “Power of One” is that every customer shares the same code base and only Workday® develop the code base. Therefore within the Workday® Community the customers can share ideas and experiences knowing that everyone is on the same version. This creates a true community of users, helping each other to share tips and solve problems.
Everyone needs to be able to pull data out of their financial system based on a set of business identifiers that continually change; open invoices by cost centre, by region, by cost centre and region; amount spent with a particular supplier by cost centre and on adfinitum. Most systems solve this problem by either adding dimensions to the Account Block or creating a complex Chart of Accounts to duplicate account codes by their reporting needs.
Workday®solves this issue by using Worktags. In simple terms these are individual identifiers that are attached to a transaction. Almost any data item is a worktag. Company, Location, Customer Name, Payment Terms, VAT Code, Cost Centre, Company,Bank Account, GL Account Number, Product etc.
As a transaction is created the Worktags are added so that all transactions can then be pulled from the database based on any combination of Worktags. For ease of entry (and standardisation across transactions) the worktags are inherited as a transaction is created. For example when creating a purchase order ;
- The creator of the transaction worktag is assigned automatically and that person’s cost centre and company are inherited and added to the transaction.
- The supplier is selected and their payment terms are inherited.
- And so on. You can default worktags that are related, to reduce the manual selection; reducing errors. For example a rule can be created that defaults a location to the purchase order when a combination of part number and supplier is selected, so that all widgets bought from a specific supplier get delivered to the same location. The worktags are all separate data items that belong to a particular transaction. They are not elements of an account code string. Therefore it is easier to create reports and data extracts based on almost any combination of worktags.
Solution Designed from the Output back to the Input
This is more about how the system is implemented, rather than Workday® itself. However the power of the Worktags enable this implementation method. The solution is designed looking at what data types are needed to create output (reports and data extracts). Once these data types are identified, they are built in a Foundational Data Model, and turned into the Worktags. Then the input processes and validations are designed to ensure that the correct Worktags (and Worktag values) are attached to the transactions. This design method gives an organisation a number of benefits, including;
- Significantly reducing the time that most Finance departments take to clean up data during month end and other reporting periods.
- With the correct application of worktags and the correct design of the data model you can slice and dice the data in whatever way you require.
Ease of System Development and Support
Not many organisations have a competitive advantage from how they create purchase orders, but a lot of them build complex bespoke process and systems that cost a lot to maintain and support, because they believe that they need to be different and unique.
Workday’s standard approach removes the complex and bespoke elements and challenges the idea that the creation of standard operational transactions (requisitions, purchase orders, supplier invoices and customer invoices) create revenue generating value to an organisation.
There is the ability to add validation to the input screens to ensure the correct Worktags are attached to the transaction (for the accurate reporting mentioned above) and simple user-maintained business process can be developed to route transactions through the organisation and onward to external partners smoothly and automatically, whilst at the same track keeping an auditable track on who is doing what.
This combination of standard systems and user-maintained layers significantly reduces the demands on in-house IT teams and the total cost of ownership.
In summary, whilst parts of the above elements can be found in most financial systems, the combination of all of these in Workday® Financials is what I believe makes it different and makes it stand out from the crowd.
Credit - Kevin Isaac - Workday® Financials Project Manager
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